BY GARY GRAHAM / THAT BAJA GUY
Cabo San Lucas
A record-setting $1.35 million stood as the total payout of the 2021 WON Cabo Tuna Jackpot that came to a dramatic close on the Marina Cabo San Lucas waterfront on Friday night.
The 2021 Cabo Tuna Jackpot champions, Salty K, took home a whopping $806,400 of the staggering $1.35 million prize purse. First, the Southern California-based team pocketed $153,000 for the 131.4-pound yellowfin tuna they bagged on Day 1, including the $20,000-entry tuna-optional pot for that day of competition. Then, they mopped up the remainder of the cash with their 230.85-pounder that propelled them to the top of the leaderboard on Day 2. Ultimately, Salty K was named the 2021 overall winner of the richest tuna tournament in the world, with a total cash haul of 806,400.
Team Overtime was next up in terms of cash score. They received an oversized check worth $432,400 at the Awards Banquet for their 133.35-pound tuna and for entering all of the tuna optionals (except the $20,000 one). The angler, Dan Hisler, hauled in the fish that edged out Salty K’s biggie that day by only a couple of pounds.
Optionals were also what led to the next-biggest payout in the
ONE OF TWO winning fish in each day’s wahoo optional in the 2021 Cabo Tuna Jackpot. Each wahoo was worth $47,600 for the two teams (entered in the optional), scoring the biggest wahoo.
Team Señor Patron and Team Yes’Em caught the two biggest wahoo among anglers entered into that optional on Day 1 and Day 2, winning $47,600 each. Señor Patron’s wahoo tipped the scale on the CTJ stage in front of Hotel Tesoro at 38.8 pounds, while the Yes’Em wahoo weighed 32.9 pounds and became the leader at that point by half-a-pound.
The dorado optional went unclaimed on Day 1 when no team brought in a dorado over the 25-pound minimum. The $58,400 was then rolled over into the Day 2 dorado optional, putting $116,800 up for grabs for the day’s largest.
Tournament Director, Gerry Mahieu, and WON Tournament Director, Billy Egan, made the call to drop the minimum to 20 pounds for the final day. However, in a heartbreaking, if not comical fashion, each of the larger dorado brought to scale fell frustratingly short, drawing gasps out of the tightly-packed crowd as they watched team after team narrowly miss the six-figure payout.
Further down the overall leaderboard, Team Una Mas claimed $8,000 for their 179.5-pound yellowfin, good for second place overall in the tuna department. Next up was Team Strictly Business, who finished third and picked up a cool $4,000 for their 167.15-pound yellowfin tuna that angler Rick Eldredge of Lake Stevens, Washington, pulled in on Day 2.
Puerto Los Cabos
Ideal weather abounds, with clear sunny skies, highs in the upper 80s, and lows down to 65 degrees. Breezes from the north are picking up mostly later in the day. Ocean water is averaging 81 to 83 degrees throughout the region, a few degrees warmer than usual for this time frame. Swells are moderate, currents have slacked, greenish water which has swept in over the past few weeks, particularly on grounds off San Jose del Cabo and north, are now just stagnant and not moving out; we need some new clean water to move in. In recent days the clear water from off Los Frailes was moving south and improved the grounds of San Luis and Iman. Strange year, at this time, two late-season tropical depressions are developing far off to the southwest in the warm water, which can make it ripe for development. However, we are not expecting anything from these systems; they are forecast to stay far away before dissipating.
Overall, the fishing action has been challenging, and most of the tournament-qualifying yellowfin tuna were found much farther offshore and associated with porpoise. We expect better fishing action to return on San Luis and Gordo Banks as ocean conditions rebound and stabilize some. Although this is not an overnight happening, we are encouraged how things seem to be on an improving trend.
Dorado had been the mainstay for the last couple of weeks, but they became a bit scarcer recently. Scattered fish are averaging 10 to 15-pounds. Wahoo were more difficult to find than dorado, but early in the week, several wahoo, close to 40-pounds, were caught, and still, others were lost. Then through the rest of the week, these fish were not biting. However, we are optimistic that they will be much more active as conditions come into shape, as this is now their typical peak season.
Billfish were very scattered, though we had a week where we saw sailfish, striped, blue (in limited numbers), and even one black marlin. We also spotted a few sierra and roosterfish near shore. It could be much better if sardina did not become so scarce. At present, the primary bait source is caballito, ballyhoo, and slabs of squid.
Bottom action produced a wide variety, from triggerfish, tilefish, sheepshead, bonito, barred pargo, yellow snapper, red snapper, amberjack, yellowtail, cabrilla, etc. However, most of these fish were five pounds or less.
While fishing was slower than expected, whale watching is now happening daily; we also see many rays. …Eric Brictson, Gordo Banks Pangas
There has been much better dorado fishing with 10 to 15-pound fish common. The striped marlin bite has improved as well, with multiple releases daily.
The water inside has cleaned up, and the fishing has improved! Lots of big sardina are available now.
Nice-sized dorado are biting sardina and small lures, south from the Lighthouse to Los Frailes. Fish from 10 to 15-pound are around in good numbers, with about half taking lures, and the rest are on sardina.
Striped marlin have been mixed in with a few sails, with multiple releases for boats targeting billfish. But, by far, the best fishing is on the drop-off directly in front of La Ribera, with trolled lures and ballyhoo being the best bait.
Some nice-sized, 30 to 50-pound class yellowfin are being taken off Rincon along the Pulmo Park border … almost all are biting sardina.
Limitless skipjack are spread across the bay – as many as anglers want. Some big ones to 10 pounds are common. These are a lot of fun for all, especially on the fly.
Many pompano and pargo are being taken off the Lighthouse, Punta Colorado, and the drop-offs off La Ribera on live sardina, chunked skipjack. … John Ireland, Rancho Leonero
Just when I’m pretty much about to close the curtains on the season because it’s cold and windy, the seas flattened, and the winds shut off. So we have wahoo, marlin, dorado, roosterfish, and even some tuna in the counts suddenly! And almost no one on the water! Pancho yesterday with Christian and a phatty wahoo!
That’s kind of it in a nutshell. Not many folks are fishing, or on the water as winter winds grow stronger from the north and cool things down. But it’s still nice to be out on the beach or hang at the pool with lots of sunshine, exactly why the snowbirds are here. The thermometer is pretty long, with daytime temps in the mid to high 80’s and nighttime temps are dropping to a cool (for us) 63 degrees. However, other than that, it hasn’t been a great time to be fishing.
The few fishermen we’ve had out found the catch to be erratic at best. Some boats dinked around for a scratch of dorado or rockfish at best. Others hit a few spots and did better with a variety of mostly inshore species like pargo, pompano, palometa, sierra, cabrilla, and roosterfish. If lucky, maybe even a few holdover dorado. So it’s quite a mixed bag as we transition to cooler-water fishing.
Six weeks later, they finally opened the season to swim with the gentle whale sharks here in the bay! There were at least ten “babies” (15 footers) out in the shallow water by Mogote yesterday. An incredible experience. All our captains have their permits and have been waiting to take folks out. They have to time it when the winds don’t blow, making it difficult to find the whalesharks, but it’s been flat, warm, and beautiful the last few days! … Jonathan Roldan, Tailhunter International.